Martin Heidegger and Nazism  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The relations between Heidegger and Nazism are a controversial subject in philosophy, although no one denies his historical engagement for the NSDAP, which he joined on May 1, 1933, nearly three weeks after being appointed Rector of the University of Freiburg. Heidegger resigned the Rectorship about one year later, in April 1934, but remained a member of the NSDAP until the end of World War II. His first act as Rector was to eliminate all democratic structures, including those that had elected him Rector. There were three book burnings on his campus, as well as some student violence.

Philosophy and politics

Since the book Heidegger et le nazisme (1987) by Victor Farias, who had access to many documents, in particular some preserved in the STASI archives, no one denies Heidegger's historical involvement with Nazism and support of Hitler's policies and person. However, philosophers disagree on the consequences of this historical responsibility on his philosophy. Some claim that his philosophy is pure from historical and political contingencies. Others, such as Jürgen Habermas or Theodor Adorno, strongly disagree, claiming that his historical engagement for the Nazi party derived from his philosophical conceptions.

When Karl Löwith suggested to Heidegger in 1936 this thesis, the latter responded by the affirmative: "Heidegger agreed with me without reservations and spelled out for me that his concept of 'historicity' was the basis for his political 'engagement'."

See also

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